Michael Crawford

Barack Obama: How to Bring About Change

Filed By Michael Crawford | February 23, 2008 7:31 AM | comments

Filed in: You Gotta See This
Tags: Barack Obama, campaign 2008, Democrats

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Barack Obama talks about the working coalition needed to bring about change.

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Michael Bedwell | February 23, 2008 7:22 PM

From Robert J. Samuelson at “Newsweek." Entire article at:


“It's hard not to be dazzled by Barack Obama. At the 2004 Democratic convention, he visited with Newsweek reporters and editors, including me. I came away deeply impressed by his intelligence, his forceful language and his apparent willingness to take positions that seemed to rise above narrow partisanship. Obama has become the Democratic presidential front-runner precisely because countless millions have formed a similar opinion. It is, I now think, mistaken.

As a journalist, I harbor serious doubt about each of the most likely nominees. But with Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain, I feel that I'm dealing with known quantities. They've been in the public arena for years; their views, values and temperaments have received enormous scrutiny. By contrast, newcomer Obama is largely a stage presence defined mostly by his powerful rhetoric. The trouble, at least for me, is the huge and deceptive gap between his captivating oratory and his actual views.

The subtext of Obama's campaign is that his own life narrative—to become the first African American president, a huge milestone in the nation's journey from slavery—can serve as a metaphor for other political stalemates. Great impasses can be broken with sufficient goodwill, intelligence and energy. "It's not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white," he says. Along with millions of others, I find this a powerful appeal.

But on inspection, the metaphor is a mirage. Repudiating racism is not a magic cure-all for the nation's ills. The task requires independent ideas, and Obama has few. If you examine his agenda, it is completely ordinary, highly partisan, not candid and mostly unresponsive to many pressing national problems.

The contrast between his broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda is stark, and yet the media—preoccupied with the political "horse race"—have treated his invocation of "change" as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation's major problems when, so far, he isn't." - Feb 20, 2008

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 24, 2008 7:02 AM

Hello Mike, I believe we lived in the same apartment building at Indiana University. As to Obama. I lived in Chicago for 25 years with my life partner and we were community organizers. We started block clubs to fight gang drug activity and the huge increase in murder on the streets of Chicago. As I lived on the Northwest side in a rough working class neighorhood and Obama was on the South side near Hyde Park you would think we would never have heard of one another. Wrong, I heard about him, and wanted to know what he was doing to create success in his neighborhood. People who had worked with him found him to be a no nonsence coalition builder. I too am a Hillary supporter even though she has gone "corporate" and carpetbagged to New York when she too was an Illinois native. Just more prestigeous to be senator from New York I suppose. Just think, had she not found it politically expedient to replace Patrick Moynahan when he retired from the senate the senate seat now occupied by Obama could have been hers. As surely as President Clinton was the first Gay friendly president, and Hillary would be no less I find nothing to fear in an Obama presidency. It would be an intersting test to see if our country can govern itself at all with someone who owes nothing to "K" street lobbists in DC. Obama has shown to run better against the aged and respectable John McCain, and I would certainly prefer his brand of politics to "w." Hillary is a lightening rod who attracts people to come out and vote who really hate. Can we chance "screwing the pooch" like we did four years ago? As to whether the nation is ready for a president of color or a woman I have to believe it would be an improvement over a fear mongering moron.

Michael Bedwell | February 24, 2008 3:33 PM

Hello Robert,

Your name sounds slightly familiar, but, I'm sorry, too many years have passed since I lived in Bloomington for me to remember everyone. I have trouble remembering the names of people I met a year ago. Also, while reared as "Mike," I definitely introduced myself as "Michael" to people then. Bedwell is a rather common name in Indiana; most of whom I'm unaware of being related to. In any case, if we were acquainted, my apologies for my foggy memory.

But applause to you for the great community work you did in Chicago. If, however, by "when she too was an Illinois native" you're referring to Obama, he was born in Honolulu, and didn't move to Chicago until after college. I agree that Sen. Clinton's move to New York was entirely strategic and have no more problem with that than Obama not running from Hawaii.

Most importantly, YES, we must unite behind the person who gets the Democratic nomination, which seems most assuredly to be Obama at this point. After that, I will stop criticizing him during the campaign. Until then, because I still believe Sen. Clinton could beat McCain, I will continue to point out the reasons Obama is an inferior candidate in the remote chance of influencing a single voter in any primary yet to happen.

All the best.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 29, 2008 1:00 AM

Michael, Sorry that I forgot that you prefer the formal. Perhaps I can jog your memory. I came from Purdue and was originally Allen Lopp's roomie in our definately unique apartment building. One evening you were "entertaining" and the chap I met in your apartment was someone I had done a summer jobs program with in Michigan City. In that we knew people in common he freaked. Ah, the Summer of "75." Hillary could have ruled as an Illinois senator where she had her roots anyway.
As this is now an old posting I will give you my email address. I and my partner now live/love in Thailand and the address is; [email protected] Drop a note. Ganshorn